The Blueshirts are in Toronto for the second game of a four-game road trip where they look to string two wins together (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersNHL RankingsMaple Leafs
11thNHL Standing Rank4th
23rd  PP%15th

Previous Game:

               It was a dream homecoming for Alexis Lafreniere and his family as the 20-year-old scored the game-winning goal at the midway point of the third period to help defeat the Canadiens 3-1. It was a great response by the Rangers as Montreal had tied the game to send the Bell Centre into a frenzy just 26 seconds prior to the Quebec native restoring the Rangers lead.

               “I was a little bit nervous for the first shift, but I play with two great players,” Lafreniere said. “They make my job so easy. I just go out there and play, and they back me up every time. It’s really good to play with them.”

               Igor Shesterkin got his first win of the season behind a 31-save performance. Shesterkin was at the top of his game making many quality saves to help keep the Rangers in the game. The 25-year-old was my player of the game in a defensive battle.

Rangers News:

               Following success in Montreal, the Rangers are in Toronto where they will take on a tough Leafs team. The depth of the Blueshirts will be tested as Kaapo Kakko has been placed on the injured reserved following a hit from Canadiens defender Alex Romanov. Kakko will be out for at least the next seven days following this designation. With Ryan Strome still out of the lineup and on the COVID protocol, the Rangers will have to overcome 66% of their second line not available. Head coach Gerard Gallant believes that Kakko won’t be out for the long-term and could be back next week.

               Filip Chytil will continue to center the second line as Barclay Goodrow is the likely man to move up in the linemate to join Chytil and Artemi Panarin.

               Julien Gauthier is expected to return to the Blueshirts lineup on the third line with Kevin Rooney and Sammy Blais. Rooney has moved up in the lineup to help fill Strome’s absence. The 28-year-old talked about how it’s different playing teams outside of last year’s division.

               “It felt like the first periods of both games (DAL and MTL), we were kind of feeling each other out,” said Rooney.

               Morgan Barron has been called up from the AHL and was rotating on the fourth line with Greg McKegg, Ryan Reaves, and Dryden Hunt. A combination of those four will make up the fourth line.

               As we are becoming accustomed to, Gallant hasn’t named his starting goalie and we will have to wait till pregame to see who will be in goal. Gallant has a very interesting decision to make whether to turn to Alex Georgiev who has had monster games against the Leafs in the past including a 54 save performance. Gallant said, “career statistics are important but also the goalie in the best form is a major factor.”

Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs

               While the Rangers are dealing with two absences from their top-six, Toronto will welcome back last year’s Maurice Richard (Highest goal scorer in the league) winner Auston Matthews to their top line. Matthews has recovered from offseason wrist surgery and is ready to make his season debut on Monday night. Matthews scored 41 goals in 52 games which were eight more than second-place Connor McDavid.

               Along with Matthews, they have a high-powered offense consisting of John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. These four high-end players are capable of helping Toronto put up seven on any given night. They also consist of a lot of good depth pieces including Nick Ritchie and veterans Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds to help round out the team.

               This game will also mark the first time Toronto has played a non-Canadian team for the first time since losing to John Tortorella’s Columbus Blue Jackets at the play-in tournament in the Toronto bubble.

               “It’s going to be great to hear two anthems for a change,” said Marner.

               But it is not all trending up for Toronto as goaltender Petr Mrazek is set to miss at least two weeks after suffering a groin injury. Toronto is a team that is up against the cap that they couldn’t recall their third goaltender Michael Hutchinson up from the minors. The Leafs were forced to sign University of Toronto goaltender Alex Bishop to an amateur tryout so he could backup starting netminder Jack Campbell.

               “You never really notice the flash of the cameras until you get out there. It’s pretty distracting,” Bishop said. “But it was cool, especially at the end of warmup and getting to face some shots, which is really cool.”

               Hutchinson is now with the Leafs after being called up on emergency recall exemption. Hutchinson is expected to backup Campbell against the Rangers.

               In addition, defender Justin Holl missed the last game with an illness. Holl did take part in an optional morning skate and could be available against the Rangers.

Matt’s What to Watch:

               My what to watch for tonight is the performance of Panarin. Panarin has two assists in three games but he has been quieter than we are accustomed too. The Blueshirts are going to need a big game from the Russian winger if they want to maximize their chances of winning. In addition, he only has a total of two shots on goal this season.

               “He’s made some great plays,” Gallant said. “Just because he hasn’t scored doesn’t mean he hasn’t played well. He made some unbelievable passes last game on the power play.”

Projected Lineup: